California Hands-free Cell Phone Law: July 1, 2008
Cell phones are everywhere. Unrestricted access to our loved ones or our business feels like a birthright, but sometimes we may endanger ourselves and those around us… while we drive.
In an effort to curb countless accidents blamed on cell phone usage, legislators passed the California Wireless Telephone Automobile Safety Act of 2006. The law, effective July 1, 2008, requires drivers to use their cell phones hands-free while on public roads.
Of course, the foremost exception would be emergency calls—California drivers make thousands of wireless telephone emergency 911 calls daily. That being said, qualifying calls are those made to law enforcement or public safety agencies for emergency purposes.
Speaker-phone units with push-to-talk capabilities are allowed only for commercial and tow trucks, school buses, farm equipment, and public servants. Texting is prohibited for all drivers.
Additionally, drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from any non-emergency use of wireless telephones, even if equipped with hands-free capability.
First-time violations will be punishable by a $20 fine; and $50 for subsequent offenses. Points will not be assessed on the violators’ driving records.
Consumers should prepare for the new law. Headsets will be in high demand. The ultimate solution, however, will be new cars equipped with Bluetooth capability. This allows Bluetooth cell phone usage through the car’s audio system speakers and a built-in microphone.
Bluetooth is a versatile technology that allows wireless data transfer between electronic devices such as telephones, headsets, computers, printers, etc. Automobiles with Bluetooth automatically cancel the operation of the stereo and navigation systems while facilitating a cell phone call.
Once you use Bluetooth, you will never buy a new cell phone or car without it.